Mixed reactions have trailed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) extension of the deadline for the collection of old naira notes by 10 days.
Some Nigerians who spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Lagos, commended the CBN for the extension, while others said that it could also lead to a situation where government policies might not be taken seriously in the future.
According to them, the extension is a good decision because it affords some Nigerians, who are yet to deposit their old naira notes, the opportunity to do so.
The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, said that the apex bank sought and obtained the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari, to extend the deadline to Feb. 10.
The governor said aside from those holding illicit/stolen funds in their homes for speculative purposes, the aim of the extension was to give Nigerians that have naira legitimately earned and trapped, the opportunity to deposit their legitimately trapped monies at the CBN for exchange.
CBN had earlier given Jan. 31, as deadline for people to deposit the old notes in their possession in banks.
Mr. Ukaegbu Ndukwe, a software programmer, said the extension by 10 days would give the masses a few days of grace to return old notes in their possession to the bank.
“The date is fair, so long it doesn’t get extended to the election date as it might affect the free and fair electoral process in terms of vote buying.
“Most of the people clamouring for this extension may have in their possession hoarded old naira notes and might intentionally want to use these notes for vote buying,” he said.
Mr Michael Akpan, a businessman, said he did not expect the apex bank to give in to pressures by politicians to extend the Jan. 31 deadline.
“I will say it’s okay since it’s not after the elections, but government should learn to stand by its words,” he said.
Mrs. Obot Ntuen, a secondary school teacher in Okota, told NAN that she was not happy with the extension.
“I’m not happy with the extension, reason being that Nigerians will not take policymakers and government serious and they will not be law-abiding.
“Except there is a good reason for the extension, policymakers should learn to be firm with their policy making.
“It should not be further extended to avoid lawlessness,” Ntuen said.
The Centre for the Promotion of the Private Enterprise (CPPE), Dr. Muda Yusuf, said, “the Centre believed that 10 days is grossly inadequate to make up for the glaring shortcomings of the apex bank in this process.”
Prof. Ndubuisi Nwokoma, Director, Centre for Economic Policy Analysis and Research (CEPAR), University of Lagos, urged the apex bank not to further extend the deadline beyond Feb. 10.
“Ideally, there wouldn’t have been any need for the extension of the deadline of the old currency beyond Jan. 31, if not for the lackadaisical attitude of the CBN in the implementation of the change, since October 2022.
“It was wrong to still be issuing payments with the old notes through the ATMs even in the few past weeks.
“Why should people pay in their old notes to the banks only to be reissued the same old notes via the ATMs.
“However, the extension will allow the CBN to correct its mistakes and thus instruct the deposit money banks to issue only the new notes, henceforth.
“On no occasion should there be any further extensions beyond Feb. 10, to allay the fears of many that any extensions could encourage vote buying during the forthcoming general elections in February and March,” Ndubisi said.